12/30/10 — Now the real test: Republicans will have to demonstrate they deserved statehouse victory

View Archive

Now the real test: Republicans will have to demonstrate they deserved statehouse victory

A new year usually means resolutions.

And with the General Assembly just a week or two away from opening its next session, North Carolina's new Republican majority had better be thinking about a few priorities of its own.

Citizens are skeptical of legislators these days -- any legislators. Part of the reason is that they are politicians, and that usually is not a good thing. Add to that the recent round of ethics concerns out of the North Carolina General Assembly, and you have a pretty good reason for the public to be wary.

But this year, there is an added concern -- it has been many, many years since the GOP has had control of the future of North Carolina.

Some people think the November victory that gave them the majority took the Republicans by surprise -- that they cobbled together a rather weak platform that was long on rhetoric, but short on an actual workable agenda.

And in some ways they are right -- saying you will not raise taxes and that you will cut spending is a great message for the campaign trail, but it has some harsh realities when it comes time to actually make the change.

There are going to be some tough decisions coming down the pike for both the governor and the new Republican majority in the House and Senate. And while a certain amount of the blame for getting here might be laid at the door of the past Democratic leadership, getting out of this mess will be a responsibility the Republicans cannot shirk.

So they are going to need a real plan for 2011 -- words and deeds that will help the state manage and cut a projected $3.7 billion shortfall. And cutting the budget will not just be a matter of slashing here and eliminating positions there. Priorities will have to be set and changes carefully made to make sure that North Carolina moves forward responsibly.

This is not going to be an easy year to be in charge, and while the governor will take the brunt of the questioning and criticism, citizens should keep a close eye on the Legislature, too.

This is the Republicans' time to stand up, to offer ideas and to show that they were the right people to put in charge of North Carolina's next decade.

They have their chance to have their say about not only where taxpayers' money will go, but where it shouldn't. They have the chance to set a new direction, to position North Carolina so it is back in the business of attracting new investment and out of the trap of living beyond its means. They have the chance to be real leaders, game changers.

The voters should expect a lot come January -- and not just the expected scramble to change the district lines across the state, the prize for winning the majority this past November. They should demand that the new majority party show them something more than a clever plan to rig the boundaries so they can stay in power.

And the Republicans should want more, too.

They should want to earn the right to stay in power for decades, with solid ideas, good leadership and an eye to what is best for North Carolina.

Only time will tell if the Republicans have what it takes to get the job done.

Published in Editorials on December 30, 2010 11:10 AM